Clever Richardson Ads Fueling Early State Rise

Why is Bill Richardson rising so quickly in both Iowa and NewHampshire? His May bio ads go a long way toward providing an explanation:

Clever stuff, and definitely not typical bio ad boilerplate. The ads get rave reviews from basically everyone:
The ads have gotten widespread praise on the Web for their clever message. It appears Republicans almost wholeheartedly agree.

GOPers rated Richardson's offerings far above average across the board, giving them a 7.2 for their appeal and a 7.6 for their memorability. Respondents are asked to rate the ads in six categories from zero to 10.

Democrats and independents rated the ads even higher, including several marks above 8.0, making them among the best-reviewed ads in the history of the bi-weekly survey.

The ads also scored well among members of the news media, typically the most critical group in the survey, and consultants. Both groups gave the spot marks around 9.0.(...)

Another ad, in which Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) attempts to establish himself as a leader on getting a withdrawal timetable for the Iraq war, was greeted lukewarmly by Democrats and independents, though slightly above average.

When comparing all the ads, nearly six in 10 Republicans said Richardson's were the most effective, while 32 percent said Thompson's was.
Adwatch has typically avoided commentary on bio ads, which are necessary for a campaign but generally lacking in agenda setting messaging on issues such as Iraq. One thing we have looked for in bio ads has been for candidates to self-identify as Democrats, something which Richardson does not do in these ads. While, to a certain extent, that might explain why these ads do so well among Republicans, I can't imagine such self-identification would hurt him.

The Richardson ads have done well on YouTube. In terms of views, they are competitive with even the top videos from the Clinton, Edwards and Obama campaigns. That is quite an achievement for a candidate who is never considered top-tier, who has comparatively few online supporters to other campaigns, and who probably has a much smaller email list than the other campaigns. These aren't the best ads I have ever seen, and as I already noted I wish they identified him as a Democrat, but they do show potential for political ads that break away from typical frameworks. These ads appear to have produced real results while, for example, more standard ads from Edwards and Dodd have not moved numbers in a noticeable way. For some time now, I have heard many people comment that even though Democrats appear to have deep support in creative industries such as film and technology, for some reason we don't have more creative media than Republicans. Hopefully, this Richardson ad signals the beginning of a trend where our media will become more reflective of the depth of creativity in Blue America.

Double Adwatch: Dodd and Edwards On Iraq

Remember the adwatch here on MyDD, which was based on the MyDD / Courage Campaign / Wright Consulting memo for Democratic Congressional Challengers in 2006? The basic message we were looking for was for Democratic challengers to identify themselves as Democrats, foreground Republican failure in Iraq, state that you will stand up to Bush on Iraq, and pick a specific accountability fight of some sort (contractors, troop pay, bad intelligence, whatever--just pick a fight). Even though it is now spring of 2007, there are now two new ads from Democratic Presidential candidates that follow that script almost perfectly, but with one twist. In their latest ads, both Chris Dodd and John Edwards demand that other Democrats, whether in Congress or those who are running for President, do a better job of standing up to Bush on Iraq:

John Edwards

Chris Dodd

I am not going to begrudge either Edwards or Dodd for targeting fellow Democrats in their ads. They are, after all, running for the Democratic presidential nomination right now, not against a Republican Congress. Still, I think Edwards does a better job of targeting Bush as well as encouraging his fellow Democrats, while I think that Dodd's commercial is superior stylistically. Having a diverse group of people all read from a prepared script is getting kind of old in campaign commercials, and I am not even sure if it ever worked. Even though Dodd's commercial employs one of the longest running stylistic elements in political TV ads, simply having the candidate speak to the camera, I think it still works as an old standby and is also appropriate given his lower name recognition.

Still, I think they are both decent ads. While I have to run back out to the polls for the evening rush, I would like to see what you think.

Adwatch: Bill Richardson's First 2008 Ads

Back in 2006, one of MyDD's main projects during the summer and fall was the Adwatch. the purpose of the adwatch was to critique Democratic campaign commercials based on the criteria of the MyDD / Courage Campaign / Wright Consulting 2006 candidate memo. In the memo, we told candidates to focus hard on Iraq, to blame Republicans for it, to promise accountability and oversight on Iraq, and to clearly identify yourself as a Democrat. I still think that was good advice based on solid research, and I think we made a difference on 2006 Democratic messaging with that campaign.

Now, just a few short months later, Bill Richardson has started the 2008 campaign ad season by going on the air in Iowa and New Hampshire. As such, I would like to start up the adwatch again, although I should note that there is not candidate memo or other general theory currently serving as the touchstone for my critiques. Here are his two ads: a bio piece called "life's work" and an Iraq piece called "the wall."

Starting with "The Wall," I like the concreteness of the visuals, which strike me as very effective, and the message of total withdrawal. At the same time, I don't think the ad points out that Richardson's total withdrawal plan is different from that of other candidates. Then again, maybe that can wait--this is an ad where he is trying to introduce himself, not draw an immediate contrast with other candidates. What I don't like about the ad is that it does not blame Republicans for Iraq, even though it is quite clearly Republicans who managed the war into the ground and who now refuse to start brining it to an end. Saying you will "work with both parties" on Iraq I don't think accurately characterizes the current political difficulties in ending the war in Iraq. "Life's Work" is a more standard biographical spot, and as such is not the sort of ad we usually focused on in the adwatch. It is very well produced, and focuss on his obviously impressive resume, although it oddly never has Bill Richardson himself speaking in it. Do voice over commercials still work?

Overall, there are two problems with both of these ads: over-emphasis on bi-partisanship, and a complete lack of self-identification as a Democrat. Neither commercial offers any information as to Richardson's partisan affiliation, which is particularly strange since he is running for the Democratic nomination and since the Democratic brand is so strong right now. As for the consistent message of bi-partisanship, while I know that is what some pollsters (PDF) are saying Democrats want, I think that is faulty information. As I wrote last week:
Many establishment types will continue to argue that the country has a deep desire for bipartisanship even while Democrats hold the advantage, and even point to polls numbers indicating as much [PDF]. However, what are people going to say when they are asked whether or not they wish we could all just get along? No? It is like the crappy 2006 exit poll that asked people whether or not they thought combating corruption in government was important, and therefore supposedly proved that combating corruption was the number one issue in the campaign when everyone polled stunningly said that corruption in government was bad. Maybe next we should ask voters whether or not they like sunshine and puppies as a means of proving that sunshine and puppies are the most important issues in the campaign.

The country doesn't want compromise, or bipartisanship, or someone who straddles both parties. Right now, the country wants Democrats. All of our candidates running for higher office need to remember that, and we need to keep reminding them.
Both Iowa and New Hampshire resoundingly rejected Republicans in 2006, even supposedly "moderate" and "bipartisan" Republicans. Combined, despite their small size, those two states produced four of the thirty US house seats we pickup last year. Further, Democrats also took back every legislative chamber and governorship in both states that they did not already possess. These two states were among two of the biggest nodes in the 2006 landslides, so it doesn't seem to me that the good folks in Iowa and New Hamsphire want bi-partisanship--it seems like they want Democrats. I think Bill Richardson is listening to the wrong people if he thinks otherwise. I certainly hope he comes to more clearly and strongly identify as a Democrat in the future.

Update: This isn't directly related to the ads, but I wanted to note that the four new US house Democrats from Iowa and New Hampshire--Braley, Loebsack, Shea-Porter, and Hodes--not only took Republican seats, but are quite a progressive group. Residents of Iowa and New Hampshire didn't just reject Republicans, they embraced progressives. That could add an interesting factor to the early states.

Clinton Hires Spitzer Ad-Man Jimmy Siegel

Readers of this site may be familiar with Jimmy Siegel, the former Madison Avenue executive who donated his ad-production services to Eliot Spitzer and helped him win by a 40-point margin on November 7. For those unfamiliar with Siegel's approach, it is decidedly different from many other media consultants who produce political ads that tend to look and sound at least somewhat like one another and very few of which stand out among the sea of advertisements on broadcast and cable television.. One ad, which he produced for Kirsten Gillibrand's successful campaign for Congress, recreated the film Good Night, And Good Luck -- along with the film's star David Straithairn. Another weaves in very uplifting tones to call on voters to provide a Democratic candidate for the state Senate with the 18 votes she lost by two years earlier. Yet another, also with an uplifting tone (a number of his ads are fairly inspirational) laid out Spitzer's wish-list for the state government in Albany. One more offered one of the most effective biographies in under 30 seconds that I have seen in a recent political ad. And one of Siegel's most recent ads looks something like this:

Now Siegel, who was profiled last summer by The Sun's Jacob Gershman and who, prior to 2006, had not produced campaign ads, has been signed by Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign. Elizabeth Benjamin of the Albany Times Union's blog has the story.

Jimmy Siegel, the former Madison Avenue adman behind Gov. Eliot Spitzer's much-praised cinematic TV spots during the 2006 campaign, has agreed to lend his talents to U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, in her likely bid for the White House in 2008, her spokesman confirmed Sunday.

"We're delighted that Jimmy and Danny (Levinson) are helping us," said Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson, referring to Siegel and his partner at their production company, Moxie Pictures. "They have consulted for the campaign, and we expect they will be important parts of the campaign's creative team, which Mandy (Grunwald) is in the process of putting together."


It will be interesting to see what he comes up with to soften Clinton's image and make her seem less scripted and more personable - the same way he took Spitzer's so-called "anger problem" and turned it into the more positive: "passion."

To that end, the whole "conversation with America" focus Clinton took in her announcement speech, and her expressed desire to "chat" with voters, has Siegel written all over it.

It will be interesting to see how Siegel approaches ad-production in the Clinton campaign, where he will not be the top dog and where his candidate will not be a shoo-in. (Spitzer not only had an air of inevitability -- his victory was inevitable.) Will his slightly different ads help propel Clinton to the nomination or will they not be hard-hitting or substantive enough enough to make it through the clutter of campaign ads that will deluge voters in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina and elsewhere? I have a hunch that the former will be the case -- that campaign ads that look more like non-political ads than political ones will be the most effective, both next year and in future cycles -- but writing campaign ads for the candidate who will clearly be the next Governor might not be the best preparation for the rough and tumber of a presidential primary. Either way, I do like the hire in the sense that it represents a willingness to, at least in part, bypass the media consultants who have in past years failed the Democrats in favor of Madison Avenue types who might actually be able to produce ads that help get Democrats elected rather than just pad the bottom lines of their own firms.

(And just to follow on what Atrios wrote, discussing a candidate's campaign should not be construed as an endorsement of that candidate, just as running a candidate's ads should not be construed as an endorsement either...)

There's more...

Late Night Thread

I'm finally emerging from my errands. Let me say this: any of you goody-two-shoes out there who favor campaign finance reform have never had to file a disclosure document with the FEC. I hate this stuff--it is like doing your taxes five extra times every year. This is almost single-handedly changing my views on campaign finance reform.

Anyway, enough of my whining. Here are some other items that have caught my eye:
  • TX-23: Does Ciro have more of a chance than previously thought? I wrote earlier today that if Latinos are 45% or more of the electorate next week, he probably wins. As it turns out, Latinos actually make up 65% of the new district, according to the census, not 55% as previously though. An enterprising commenter at Swing State Project discovered this little fact. The odds are still against Ciro, but it does give me more hope than before.

  • Mars: Turns out there is still liquid H2O on Mars. Awesome! Combine this with the talk of a permanent Moon base, and I growing excited about the notion of space travel again. Let's throw in at least one massively improved Hubble telescope and get back to exploring the stars. I know that when Bush rolled out the idea of going to Mars it was a crude political ploy to try and make him look visionary or something, and to district people from other problems. However, I do really like the idea of a permanent Moon base, and of going to Mars. Here is to hoping that one day soon the federal government can return to sound fiscal footing and then seriously pursue bold policies of discovery and wonder such as these. I think accomplishing either a permanent Moon base or a manned mission to Mars would be fantastic for both the country, and for humanity as a whole. The more bold moves we take to test the very limits of our abilities, the more we will learn about what we can accomplish.

  • Iraq Study Group: Senator Feingold states what desperately needed to be said on the Iraq Study Group on Countdown tonight. Check out Crooks and Liars for the video, and Dailykos for the transcript. I do love that man.

  • Obama: Digby, Pastor Dan, and Armando all comment on my Obama piece from Monday night. All are very sustentative, and worth a read. Democrats leaders of all types should read about this stuff, as it deals with the very heart of the notion of how we create a positive image for our party, stay unified, and seize the natural governing majority mantle. I will keep writing about this throughout the week, once I am freed from my FEC induced haze.

  • Adwatch: Why can't political ads look this good? Seriously. It would make a nice ad for a progressive candidate and a progressive message.

  • 2008: Kucnich might run again. I don't think he was exactly a very effective spokesperson for the left-wing of the party last time, but progressives are not exactly in abundance among the current crop of candidates. Still, I think his platform would have done a lot, lot better in 2004 if there was a more impressive candidate--even another member of the house--running on it.

    Markos has the latest, unstuffed, Dailykos straw poll. I know it was unstuffed because the percentages did not change form beginning to end. He also has his first cattle call. I generally agree with what he writes. I am not sure how I would separate what I see as clearly the top tier of Clinton, Edwards and Obama right now, as those three are very tight. I also think Richardson needs to be up with Clark in the second tier. Otherwise I think his rankings are on target.
This is a late-night thread. Discuss these and other topics.


Advertise Blogads